Panther Parent MS/HS Newsletter

All Things Social/Emotional at Addison Secondary Schools

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Hello Panther Families!

I hope your students' first week of virtual learning has been a pleasant experience. I know first-hand how hard our teachers have worked to make things run smoothly here at the school, and we are all excited to get things moving again. With all the new lessons and links that are being emailed out, it can surely feel a bit overwhelming so don't forget to use some of those Self-Care tips we discussed last week to help you manage the stress of everything!


This week's Social Emotional Learning (SEL) topic is MINDFULNESS (which is the opposite of a "full mind" like in the picture above!) I am so excited to share with you how Mindfulness can support your own well-being as well as your student's! If you have a few minutes, I encourage you to watch the video below featuring many successful and respected people who describe how Mindfulness has helped them navigate our stressful world.


Mindfulness is a super important practice in mental health, and there are so many proven benefits for both you and your student. Being able to manage the stresses of daily life can be challenging for us all, but Mindfulness is a tool that helps create a greater capacity to deal with adversity. It also improves our mood, supports better sleep habits, and allows us to form more positive connections with others. For a more in-depth explanation, check out this article on the Benefits of Mindfulness for Kids and Teens.


Before we get started, I want to remind you that even though we don't get to see your students face-to-face at school anymore, we are all still here to help. Please don't ever hesitate to reach out to me either by email or by submitting a request form for non-urgent issues. If you or a loved one is experiencing an emergency or one of the '3 Hurts' (1. you are in danger of harming yourself; 2. you are in danger of being harmed by someone else, or 3. you are in danger of harming another person), please seek help immediately using one of resources listed at the very bottom of this newsletter.


As always, if you have any questions, thoughts, or concerns, please don't hesitate to reach out. Thank you for all of your support with our new learnings this week! Your words of encouragement and positivity continue to help us all stay focused on what is most important--our Addison students and their overall well-being!


Stay Healthy! Stay Happy!

Ms. Monica Flores

Secondary Behavior Specialist

Addison Community Schools

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Intro to MINDFULNESS


Being able to handle stressful or difficult situations in a calm and collected manner is one of the most valuable skills we can learn. And really, this is true for all human beings--especially our teenaged students. Some of you are naturally 'calm' people, so this may come easier for you; but all of us, at some time, struggle to keep our cool when things are stressful or difficult. This is where MINDFULNESS comes in to help!


MINDFULNESS is a super important aspect of mental health, and there are so many proven benefits. Practicing the simple exercises below can help improve your focus and attention (it works for just about anyone--including young people with ADHD who often struggle to pay attention), help you stay calm under stress, sleep better, avoid getting too upset, get along better with others, build resiliency, increase your overall feelings of happiness, and be more patient with your friends, your family members, and even yourself!


That sounds like a magic wand, right?! Nope. It's real. And all it takes is your willingness to practice.


Below, you will find a list of 5 different methods to help establish your own Mindfulness routine. If you are new to Mindfulness, you may want to start here by watching last week's brief (3 min.) video on Mindful Breathing. I've also attached my own favorite Mindful Walking script at the bottom; it's such a beautiful reminder that despite all of the loss we have experienced due to the COVID-19 situation, we all still have many, many things to be grateful for...including the fact that you are reading my newsletter! Thank you so much for taking the time to love yourselves and to grow through these Mindful-themed strategies. I am certain that though our goals may differ immensely as individuals, we will always still have one goal in common -- to continue to be better versions of ourselves--as parents and as a community--always.


Because each of us is an individual, especially our adolescents who need autonomy and freedom of choice to feel like they have some control over their experiences, I have put together a list of different Mindfulness activities to choose from. I encourage you to try the exercises yourself before sharing them with your student; adolescents are much more likely to do these exercises if you share in the experience. Mindfulness is for adults too!--As you practice, you will surely notice how your own calm behavior supports the needs of your family too! As we learn to practice Mindfulness regularly, my hope is that we all may discover ourselves becoming more patient and responsive to our loved ones during this time. And if you are looking for a mindful activity geared more towards adults, Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra have put together a free 21-day meditation experience. Personally, I have found this to be very rewarding in my own life, and I hope it will offer you the same peace and comfort.


Enjoy!

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MINDFUL Exercises

These activities were taken from TeensHealth.org. This website is one of my favorites; it is full of great resources to help address the issues of mental and physical health as it relates to adolescence. If you are interested in learning more about specific topics, check it out and let me know what you think!


1. Mindful Eating

You can do this with an orange, an apple, or even something as small as a raisin. Let's say you decide to do mindful eating with an orange. Your job is to eat the orange slowly, without rushing. Mindful eating means really paying attention to what you're eating. You can do this mindful eating exercise with your eyes open or closed.

  1. Start by holding your orange. Roll it in your hand. Notice how it feels.
  2. Hold the orange near your nose. What does it smell like? Take a whiff of the bittersweet smell of the orange peel.
  3. If you have your eyes open, notice how the orange looks. Pay attention to whether the skin is smooth or bumpy. If you hold it firmly, is it squishy?
  4. Slowly peel your orange, paying attention to how it feels in your fingers. Notice the juiciness, and whether the inside of the orange smells different from the outside.
  5. Is your mouth watering? Go ahead and taste your orange. Notice how it feels on your tongue, and against your teeth. Notice the flavor, the texture, and the juiciness as you chew each piece slowly. Take your time as you chew, taste, smell, and feel each bite of your orange.


2. Mindful Breathing

With this exercise, you focus your attention on breathing. You want to pay attention to your breath in an easy way — on purpose, but not forced.

  1. Sit up in a comfortable way. Close your eyes.
  2. Notice your breathing as you inhale and exhale normally. Just pay attention to your breath as it goes in and out. Can you feel the place where the air tickles your nostrils?
  3. Pay attention to how the breath gently moves your body. Can you notice your belly or your chest moving as you breathe?
  4. Sit for a few minutes, just paying attention to your gentle breathing. See how relaxed you can feel just sitting, breathing in and out.
  5. When your mind starts to wander and think about something else, gently guide your attention back to your breathing.


3. Mindful Walking

This exercise is about paying attention to how your body moves as you walk slowly.

  1. To start, pick up one foot and take a step forward, in slow motion. Pay attention to how you naturally keep your balance.
  2. Now walk in slow motion, step by step. Notice how your arms and legs and feet move. Pay attention to how your knees bend and straighten, as you lift one foot and then the other, nice and slow.
  3. Breathe in and out, in time with your steps. See if you can keep your attention focused on walking slowly, step by step, as you relax and breathe.
  4. Whenever your mind wanders, gently guide it back to your s-l-o-w motion moving. Keep breathing, in and out, as you enjoy moving in slow motion.


4. Mindful Word

  1. Think of a word that seems calm or soothing. This could be a word like "peace" or "love" or "peaceful" or "snowflake" or "sunlight" or "hum" or "calm."
  2. Think the word to yourself. Say it silently and slowly in your mind. Say your word to yourself with each breath you take, in and out. Keep your attention gently focused on your word.
  3. When your mind wanders, guide your attention back to your word, and keep saying it gently and slowly while you relax and breathe.
  4. Can you do this for a whole minute? Can you do it for 5 minutes?


5. Mindful Driving

Safe driving requires paying attention. It's easy for drivers to get distracted - and that can lead to accidents. If you drive, practice this mindfulness skill when you get in the car. It helps your mind focus better as you drive:

  1. Before you start the car, take a moment. Bring your attention to how your body feels in the driver's seat. Is the seat comfortable? Does it feel soft, firm, cool, or warm?
  2. Take a slow breath as you settle into the seat. Shift your attention to notice if your feet reach the pedals easily. Adjust the seat if needed. Take a slow, deep breath.
  3. Fasten your seat belt. Say to yourself, "I plan to pay attention while I'm driving. I plan to drive safely and well."
  4. Now shift your attention to the mirrors. Check the mirrors and adjust them if you need to.
  5. Take a slow breath and start the car. Now shift your attention to notice the area around your car. Are there people or cars around you? Guide your attention as you begin to drive.
  6. As you drive, notice any situations that call for you to slow down or speed up. Keep guiding your attention to what's around you as you drive.
  7. If you feel distracted while you're driving, remind yourself, "I'm driving" and refocus your attention to what you're doing.


When you practice mindfulness, you will probably notice that you feel calm and relaxed. If you keep practicing, you might start to notice that it's easier to focus your attention on things like schoolwork or listening. You may begin to feel calmer and more patient in your everyday life. You may find that when little things go wrong, you can handle them better.



Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD

Date reviewed: November 2017

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Disaster Distress Helpline

The Disaster Distress Helpline, 1-800-985-5990, is a 24/7, 365-day-a-year, national hotline dedicated to providing immediate crisis counseling for people who are experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster. This toll-free, multilingual, and confidential crisis support service is available to all residents in the United States and its territories. Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after a disaster. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

LISD COVID-19 Community Updates

Our colleagues at Lenawee County Intermediate School District and continually working on keeping our community informed about issues related to the physical and mental health of our students. Please visit them at https://www.lisd.us/our-district/public-information/covid-19-coronavirus/ for updated resources and information.

Lenawee Community Mental Healthy Authority - COVID-19 Info

During this time of uncertainty, Lenawee Community Mental Health Authority (LCMHA) wants to let our community know that they are still ‘open for business’. In an effort to keep everyone safe, face to face contact has been reduced. If you are in need of services for yourself or your students, please call their office at (517) 263-8905 or (800) 664-5005. The COVID-19 pandemic is understandably creating an increase in anxiety and fear--this is a normal reaction to a worldwide crisis. There is help available. CMH is currently offering community groups to help you cope with the stress and anxiety. These groups are conducted via Zoom by a Master’s level clinician. They will be held every day at 10am and 2pm. You can join the group by going to the LCMHA Facebook page or website at www.lcmha.org (click on the Coronavirus link).